6 Interesting Facts about Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ Portrait

Throughout centuries, Mona Lisa’s smile has mystified and captured the hearts of many historians, artists and art aficionados. Some mysteries of the artwork haven’t been solved to this day. Below you can find some of the interesting facts about the history of The Mona Lisa.

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Aliens were 99% not behind it

Surprise surprise – the “Da Vinci Code” was hardly Mona Lisa’s first ever conspiracy. Over centuries, people have spotted “hidden” images within the painting that were interpreted to be maps, secret signs and even messages from aliens. One analysis shows that if you search for hidden messages with a particular piece of technology, you can see an image of Darth Vader behind Mona Lisa’s face. Dan Brown wrote that the painting was allegedly the map to the location of The Holy Grail – it seems that that theory is tame compared to the puzzle of images theory or the “Aliens” hypothesis.  These theories are mostly the result of Leonardo’s well-known penchant for mathematics and sciences.

Eyebrows are controversial

Some claim that the reason Mona Lisa has no eyebrows is because Da Vinci never actually gotten the chance to paint them.

Others, who agree with the assumption that Mona Lisa is actually a wealthy woman named Lisa Gherardini, claim that a woman of her status would pluck her eyebrows and eyelashes.

Some people believe that the reason is much simpler – the painting is quite old and while in a remarkably good condition, the eyebrows could have just faded over time. To this day, the scholars cannot come to a single conclusion about Mona Lisa’s eyebrows.

Mona Lisa’s husband never saw it

Assuming that the woman on the painting is indeed Madame Gherardini (it hasn’t been proven to this day), we can suppose that her husband, a wealthy man named Francesco del Giocondo, was the one who commissioned the portrait from his neighbour Leonardo da Vinci. However, if that is indeed the truth, how come Francesco never collected the painting? Was it because he saw the features of Leonardo himself in the woman, as some historians claim today? Or did he simply not like it? Either way, the painting was instead acquired by King Francois I for a sum equaling to $10 million after da Vinci finished it at His Majesty’s castle.

Napoleon had a crush on her

French Emperor Napoleon I had The Mona Lisa hung in his bedroom and was rumoured to stare at her in admiration for hours. I for one would very much like to know how his beloved wife Josephine felt about that. And about the fact that the Emperor also courted the descendant of Madame Gherardini, Teresa Guadagni.

Picasso was suspected of stealing it

In 1911, the painting was stolen from The Louvre and it was missing for two years, sparking media coverage from all over the world and contributing to its today’s fame. One of the prime suspects for the theft was a Spanish artist Pablo Picasso – he previously fenced stolen pieces from the Louvre. However, the artist, who today is almost as famous as da Vinci, was innocent. The culprit was actually a member of museum’s staff Vincenzo Peruggia.

She’s deadly to men

Yep. That’s why she’s sitting behind a bulletproof glass case in The Louvre.

(Not really!)

All jokes aside, quite a few men have killed themselves apparently because of the effect Mona Lisa had on them. For example, an artist from Italy named Luc Maspero threw himself out of a hotel room window, leaving a note that said “For years I have grappled desperately with her smile. I prefer to die”. Another admirer shot himself before Mona Lisa’s very eyes back in 1910.

So in a way, the painting does make men do strange things. And apparently, that doesn’t just apply to chivalrous gentlemen of the 19th century – even today, The Mona Lisa is the only painting in The Louvre that receives its own romantic fan mail.


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